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Dungeons and Dragons Online Impressions

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the i-cast-magic-missle dept.

292

Tabletop roleplaying has been a fixture in my life since I was ten. You can probably imagine my enthusiasm when I heard of the joint venture between Asheron's Call developer Turbine and D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast. The goal: A Massively Multiplayer game set in a D&D campaign. Keith Baker's Eberron was tapped for the gameworld's flavour, with the d20 ruleset providing the skeleton on which to create the title's mechanics. The result is Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO), which has been in the works for about two years now. DDO is faithful in ways I wouldn't have thought possible, but still manages to raise conflicting opinions for me. DDO has real-time traps and combat, beautiful graphics, and still fails to interest me on any level of my gamer soul. Read on for my impressions of a most perplexing MMOG.

  • Title: Dungeons and Dragons Online
  • Developer: Turbine Entertainment
  • Publisher: Atari
  • System:PC
When I say impressions, I feel that I should emphasize my level of interaction with the game. I've only been playing the game for about a month total time now, which is hardly enough to take in the length and breadth of a game the size of DDO. When I reviewed World of Warcraft in 2004, I'd been playing the game for over six months. Here I just have my ten days of beta try-out and the time since the retail headstart began. As an MMOG, DDO will be changing and adapting as players play and devs develop. We'll do our best to keep you up to date on the game as it changes, and keep you informed if the state of the game becomes drastically different. That said, I do feel I have a good enough grasp of the game to offer a considered opinion on the game as it exists at launch.

One aspect of the title I know I have a firm grasp on is the setting. Eberron was developed by Keith Baker for a contest held by Wizards of the Coast a few years ago. Since then the pulp action setting for the D&D system has become the company's premier IP. Novels, sourcebooks, comics, and miniatures are all being created with the Eberron world in mind, and Dungeons and Dragons Online is the second work of electronic entertainment to use the setting. You may recall Dragonshard, the D&D RTS title. That too is based in Eberron, but with an (understandably) less immersive look at the setting. DDO delves deep into the backstory of the gameworld. Set in the settlement of Stormreach on the continent of Xen'drik, the game allows you to explore some of the elements that make Eberron unique. The powerful merchant and political factions known as Dragonmarked Houses make an appearance in the game, as benefactors and opponents. Dragons are rare, powerful, and mysterious. While I would have liked to get more of the backstory from the setting's main continent of Khorvaire, there is a definite sense of place in DDO. It's thin, but it's there.

Creating a character is the first of many DDO aspects that reinforce a D&D feel. Attributes are created using the 'point buy' system, allowing a player to build a character to fit a class without relying on random die rolls. If you're uninterested in tweaking a character's skills and attributes, you can simply select a class/race combo and accept the pre-built character the game will provide you. Prebuilt characters all have fairly sane choices made as regards attributes and skills, and if you're not interested in learning the particulars of D&D character creation it's a safe choice to make. All of the D&D iconic classes are available (even poncy bards), along with the typical player races. The Warforged are the stand-out race for the game, living constructs that resemble animated statues. In the game's lore, Warforged were construct troops created for a titanic century-long war. With the war at an end Warforged are emancipated creatures and can fill any role the fleshy races do. While I find them intriguing plot elements, I've heard a lot of player commentary about their inhumanity. It's a fact that the race most often played in a MMOG is 'human', and the unliving nature of the Warforged may make them an unpopular race. Just the same, their inclusion is a powerful reminder of the setting's background. The classes available are typical to what you'd find in most MMOGs; With good reason, as most MMOGs stole their class concepts from D&D in the first place. One class element that might surprise some folks who haven't done table-top gaming before is the role of the cleric. D&D clerics are almost as powerful front-line fighters as your fighter or paladin. They wear heavy armor, kick ass, and take names in the pursuit of their god's goals. Rogues are also fundamentally more useful than in many typical MMOGs. There are plenty of traps in D&D dungeons, and rogues are the only ones who can disable them. Making your character 'feels' very D&D, and sets the stage for your integration into the Eberron setting.

Once you're in the game, you'll find that the D&D setting is the least of the elements setting DDO apart from other MMOGs. Combat is a very different animal than almost any other title in the genre. In a word, DDO combat is realtime. Instead of hitting fight and using abilities as they become available, or simply watching as your avatar filets a bunny, DDO is a click-fest worthy of either Diablo game. Each click is a swing of the sword, and whether you 'hit' or not is determined by your stats. In the corner of the screen you're shown your to-hit roll, which is a random number between 1 and 20 modified by your Strength score. To score a hit, you have to get higher than your opponent's AC, and on a natural 20 you do more damage (a critical hit). In other words, you're going to do a lot of missing. This gets frustrating very very quickly. In fact, it's gets just boring after a while. Tabletop D&D combat is fun because it's abstract, with the blows landing on the screen in your mind. Actually having to sit there and watch the swords swing over and over is more than a little tedious. D&D monsters aren't like the villains of Diablo; They jump around, move out of range, and generally do their best not to get killed. That means that in addition to repeatedly clicking on your opponent you're going to be trying to follow their movements. It's all too dang chaotic to be truly fun.

Besides just poking the baddies, there is actually a good deal of depth to DDO combat. All characters have the option of using some tactics in their fighting. Skills actually play a large part in combat if used correctly. Diplomacy attempts to throw off aggro, making a monster attack someone else. Intimidate is the opposite, encouraging foes to attack your character. Rogues can use the Hide and Move Silently skills to avoid notice, and bypass monsters if need be. If they don't, they can strike from hiding and possible score a sneak attack for massive damage. Rogues can even do sneak attacks in combat by using the Bluff skill to throw an opponent off balance. Magic is more your typical MMOG fare. Wizards, Clerics, etc, have mana points which are used up by spellcasting. Even with that as the base mechanic, the system is very D&D. Spellcasting classes have only a few spell slots, and can only swap out what they have online when resting. Further, arcane spellcasters only know a subset of their available spells and must find or purchase additional spells before they can use them. These elements are all laudable additions to the game, but in reality many combats feel more like a group of individuals doing their own thing than a party effort. Because of the frenetic nature of real-time clicky combat fights are fast and hard to manage. A group comfortable with each other, with voice chat in use, will have a good deal of success. Pick-up groups, though, are at even more of a disadvantage than in most games simply because things happen so fast.

That's what you do in combat. What you're actually *doing* when you play DDO is almost entirely dungeon-crawling. You receive quests from the people of Stormreach, all of whom need help with this or that. Like City of Heroes/Villains, your missions are instanced, meaning that you and your party get to play around with your own copy of the dank basement/decaying sewer/giant ruin that you have to explore. With the missions instanced, DDO dungeons are allowed to do some really interesting stuff. Traps, for example, are deadly challenges that affect the world in real-time. More than just kicking open a chest and being set on fire, razor-sharp blades swing from the ceiling. Splashes of acid fly from spigots in the walls. If you don't have a rogue with you, some traps can be avoided by using your platforming skills to time the gap in a trap's movement. If you do have a rogue handy, the trap mechanisms can be searched out and disabled. The traps are a very cool addition to the genre, but the quests are unfortunately laughable. The thin layer of Eberron that I mentioned above is mostly related through quest text, and what is offered through NPC interaction is cookie cutter and boring. Quests usually have a voice-over, from an intangible Dungeon Master, to spice up your understanding of the situation and evoke the table-top setting. In my opinion, the voice-over doesn't add much. In truth, the storytelling that Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft manage through questing makes the story attempts of DDO look like a student project MOO in comparison.

Besides traps, dungeons are populated with all manner of gross and icky critters. While you start off fighting skeletons, slimes, and kobolds, you eventually graduate to some of the archetypal monsters of the Dungeons and Dragons product line. They're smart, too, with even the dim-witted kobolds doing their best to dance outside the range of your swordarm. You get real satisfaction from slaying enemies in DDO, both because they're a real challenge and because you can stop clicking for a little while. What you don't get is XP. Experience points are only handed out at the end of the mission, when quest objectives are completed. While some missions may have a subquest asking you to slay x number of monsters in the dungeon, each individual kill nets you nothing more than a clear hallway. I'm pretty ambivalent about this design decision. On the one hand, I like that they're emphasizing the quest instead of bashing in a kobold's brains. On the other, I don't feel quite the surge of success for whacking the baddie I might get in another game. Additionally, since the quests are so blah the XP I receive for completing them seems ill-gotten somehow. It's a toss-up, but it mostly feels like they made this decision just to be different.

That XP is put towards your next level, as with all MMOGs. There is a difference here, though, in that each level is a very long time coming. You do gain in power on a semi-regular basis, but instead of gaining a level you gain a rank. Each level is broken down into four ranks, waypoints along the road to your next level. Each rank nets you an action point, which can be spent on a character enhancement. Every race/class combo has different enhancements available to it, and all of them increase specific aspects of your character abilities. (+3 to Search, for example.) With every level being a major milestone, it won't come as a surprise that there aren't that many to gain. At the moment DDO only allows you to achieve level 10, rank 4. You can go no higher than that, but there are plans in the works to add level 11-20 content at a future date. For most normal players this will take a while; the much loved experience penalty is enacted if and when you wipe. If you die and other folks are still alive, they can take you to a resurrection shrine in the dungeon to revive you. Rest shrines are usually nearby these areas, allowing characters to regain hit points and mana mid-dungeon. Besides these rest shrines, the only way to heal HP in-dungeon is with a potion or clerical spell. I hate hate hate almost everything about these design decisions. In reverse order: Long downtimes suck. HP and MP not regenning sucks. It is not fun to sit in an inn after a mission is over watching my hp bar creep upwards. You can buy food and drink to improve this rate of regen, but it's nothing like the regeneration you'd see in other modern MMOGs. Experience penalties are evil. Taking away accomplishment from a player is the worst thing you can possibly do. It's not as harsh an experience as you'll get in FFXI, but it's still frustrating to have XP taken away because of something you may not have even had control over. Finally, their decision to ship with only ten levels is a very bad one. I'll expand on why that is below.

You'll note I've usually said 'you' when talking about gameplay, but that's misleading. I should be saying 'you and your party', because in order to play DDO you'll have to be grouped. I'll say that again so you can be clear on this: It is not possible to play Dungeons and Dragons Online solo. The intention, of course, is to evoke the flavour of a table-top session. The publisher has even included voice chat as a built-in feature to the game client to facilitate team communication. The result is a title that you cannot play alone. Some classes, like spellcasters and rogues, will have trouble soloing even the introductory quest when you first get off the boat. Clerics are probably the best soloing class, as they can heal themselves most effectively, but after the first few 'figure out the game' dungeons they're outmatched by the strength of most monsters. I can't really fault them for deciding to go this route, but it's a very harsh line. Even Vanguard, the upcoming hardcore MMO being designed very specifically with grouping in mind, is said to have something like 15% of its content geared for solo players. There isn't even that much for the individual in DDO.

The one thing I can say without prevarication is that Dungeons and Dragons Online looks good. The streets of Stormreach are beautifully laid out, with a style of architecture that really gets across the character of Eberron. A floating inn out over the water is just the tip of the iceberg; DDO has a truly unique look. Character and monster animations are well done, and the soft lighting that pervades the game gives an otherworldly charm to the title. The visual look does more than anything else to establish the character of the dungeons and city streets you'll be exploring. The sound situation has likewise gotten a good deal of attention, but the results there seem merely adequate. Sound effects are competently accomplished, and the musical track highlights game moments without being offensive. There is 'combat music', though, which I'm already tired of. Combat music is fine in a single-player RPG, but FFXI is the only MMOG in which I find that acceptable.

Another website is quoted in a DDO television commercial as offering "A Genuine Online D&D Experience". Whoever it was that came up with that piece of pabulum has never actually played Dungeons and Dragons. Table-top D&D is about storytelling, camaraderie, and having fun with your friends. Somehow in the brave new electronic frontier, these qualities are translated into meaningless grind quests, chaotic click-fest combat, and swearing over voicechat. I'm enormously frustrated by DDO because there is just so much new and interesting going on here. The skill use and traps are real firsts for the genre, providing meaningful player choice in how to navigate a dungeon and how to do combat. These awesome mechanics are sandwiched side by side with other elements that seem more appropriate for launch-day Ultima Online. There are so many contradictions within this game that it's hard to know which is most confusing, but I have a top pick. For those who will like this game, they're going to just eat this thing up. And when I mean eat it up I mean "grind through the game in about a month or two". There were already characters at max level before the game's headstart event had finished out. Whoever did that payed about fifty bucks for ten days or so worth of play. They undoubtedly started a new character, but because of the simple questing structure there's almost no replay value currently in the game. Thankfully not all is doom and gloom. Turbine just announced that they're already planning to add 15 new dungeons and a raid on a dragon's lair in April. That commitment to new content is the going to be the only thing keeping the hardcore around because there is nothing at all available for you once you hit level 10. There is nothing to the endgame yet; It's all still in production.

So, let's review: The game isn't for the hardcore because they'll eat the content too quickly. It's not for the casual gamer because it's impossible to play on your own. Dungeons and Dragons Online is very specifically crafted for folks playing with other people at a non-hardcore pace. And in a way I think that's a good thing. It's good they have a target audience in mind, and if I were planning on adopting DDO as my game of choice that would probably be a good description of me. Just the same, it's a very bold decision to make. Only time will tell for sure, but I have a feeling it's a decision that will come back to haunt them. In the meantime: If you've got a group of regular online gamers you play with, you and your crew should consider giving DDO a try. It's got some interesting new elements that make it stand quite apart from most other Massive games. Don't be surprised if you get bored of it sooner rather than later, but if you and your group are tired of raiding Molten Core for the hundredth time this should keep you out out of Azeroth for a month or two. Hardcore gamers should stick to whatever they're playing now. They'll eat this title for lunch and find themselves frustrated with the lack of endgame content. Casual players should just keep on moving. If you're not willing to commit the time and energy to the constant search for a group, you won't find anything to do here. At the end of the day, DDO is a game with a great deal of promise squandered by some very confusing design decisions. Now go find your DM and give him a hug.

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First POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926658)

Can you digg it...? ;-)

From the FAQ (4, Informative)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926675)

"Currently Dungeons and Dragons Online only supports certain Windows operating systems. There are no plans at this time to make a Macintosh compatible version."

Guess that means I'll stick with WoW. kthxbye.

Re:From the FAQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926783)

kthxbye

I hate snot-nosed punk talk from Gen-Y people.

Re:From the FAQ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926981)

lol n00b

Also to the point. (2, Insightful)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926798)

Until they have a solaris/sparc version, I'll be sticking with text MUDs. kthxbye. Sadly, the majority of games developers dont seem to give half a shiznit about platforms other than WindowsXP (and vista soon) .. im not saying they SHOULD care about porting thier game to a serious minority platform (such as mine), im just pointing out that they DONT.

Re:Also to the point. (1, Redundant)

darkwelder (917624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927004)

Are you telling me that you haven't yet downloaded the Irix 6.5 release of WoW to play on your Indigo 2? Just fire up BitTorrent...

Indigo2 (1)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927239)

Heh, funny you mention that .. sadly my indigo2 only has a half-working linux install at the moment, no irix ;-)

Re:Also to the point. (4, Funny)

Andrzej Sawicki (921100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927027)

Sadly, the majority of games developers dont seem to give half a shiznit about platforms other than WindowsXP (and vista soon)
I believe you misspelled "managers".

Re:Also to the point. (3, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927206)

Sadly, the majority of games developers dont seem to give half a shiznit about platforms other than WindowsXP (and vista soon) .. im not saying they SHOULD care about porting thier game to a serious minority platform (such as mine), im just pointing out that they DONT.

True, but one of their major competitors and the game this will doubtless be measured against does. Hence, it is perfectly appropriate to point out that they will lose market because of this design decision. Maybe that will be insignificant, but it is one concrete way in which this game is inferior. Personally, I don't enjoy grinding games designed to take up as much time as possible. I'd rather go with a design that gives you as much fun in the smallest amount of time. This is why it is unlikely I would ever buy either WoW or DDO. When games sales methods provide a financial incentive to the developers for wasting your time and those companies have not built an extraordinary level of trust I'll always pass.

Re:From the FAQ (1)

Onan (25162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926943)

"Currently Dungeons and Dragons Online only supports certain Windows operating systems. There are no plans at this time to make a Macintosh compatible version."

Guess that means I'll stick with WoW.

Right there with you (and confused about why you were modded redundant).

By this review, the game sounds pretty awful. But I find all of the shortcomings described here to be secondary to the fact that it'll run only on so atrocious an operating system.

Re:From the FAQ (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927115)

No PvP either... I'll stick to my NWN persistent world...

Jaysyn

Re:What about dual boot intel macs or Darwine? (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927318)

"There are no plans at this time to make a Macintosh compatible version."

Guess that means I'll stick with WoW. kthxbye.


What if you could run it in Darwine or dual boot your intel mac into Winxp?

Well then it would be a moot point, but as of now you can't... So we won't...

But maybe we will...

That or hope Virtual PC 8 runs at full speed.

TSOP TSRIF (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926677)

TSOP TSRIF

Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926680)

I played D&D when I was young -- it was part of the reason I entered the BBS world. Later, my BBS grew beyond single node and many of my regulars played Tele-Arena, a MUD that could handle dozens of users. When the Internet destroyed most BBSes, I played a few MUDs but it wasn't the same. With the BBS gaming, people all lived fairly close to one another, and many users got together on a regular basis. With the Internet, this "get together" is nearly impossible.

MMOGs don't interest me -- the graphics pretty much ruin in. I've thought about getting together with some other "over the hill" D&D geeks on occasion to try table top gaming again, but there isn't enough time for most people to make it a regular scheduled item.

What are the options? I was thinking of an MMOG with reduced graphics (leading to increased imagination) that maybe segregated players into communities where they'd play against others close to one another. Communities might be tied to one another allowing crossover, but requiring the player to want to take the time to travel to these truly distant lands but requiring them to return home before retiring for the day.

I don't know if this is really an answer, but I'm sure there are others out there that don't get into the graphics, don't have time to find others nearby, but still want the chance to have some virtual face-to-face time.

From what I can tell, there aren't any "locally restricted" options for any MMOG, but I wonder if this is the next step in gaming: offering people the chance to play within their true community, whatever that may be. Beyond that, I'd like to see how more imagination can be part of gaming, like it used to be.

Side note: are there any MMOGs that have a graphic interface that is built around a user's imagination? Maybe in between games (or even during games) the user can go elect to redesign a given monster or land or whatever to more of what they see in their heads? I'd think this would add a uniqueness factor that would make the game more playable -- rather than being stuck with the typical same interface, the player has a lot more control. For example: you're fighting Monster X but the monster isn't really what you see in your head. Hit the + key or something and you can scroll through the various monster designs out there (even third party designed maybe) until you see what you like. Same thing could be true for the various land designs and overall world feel.

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (5, Interesting)

sheath (4100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926858)

MMOGs don't interest me -- the graphics pretty much ruin in. I've thought about getting together with some other "over the hill" D&D geeks on occasion to try table top gaming again, but there isn't enough time for most people to make it a regular scheduled item.

So, writing as an "over the hill geek" - my first roleplaying experience was in late 1983, I have a suggestion: put in the effort to find people who want to play!

I started playing D&D 3rd edition again a few years ago with a few friends. At that point, we were all in grad school. Now, I'm a consultant, and most of the rest are lawyers. The game improves as you age. We haven't been in a dungeon in a year, but we've had fantastic debates over deposing the current ruler of an autocratic city-state ("Who will rule when we leave?" "Do we really have the right?"), the morality of killing the few to save the many (or killing the many to save the even more), and the banter between characters and between characters and NPCs is better than that in most fantasy novels. ('Cause, you know, we're older and more mature than we were when we were in high school.)

So: go check out your local gaming store. Or the local grad school. Or ask around among friends and say you're running a D&D game. Get people to come for just one day of gaming. Some of them will turn out to be hardcore and play every week. Our current group of 4-6 people meets every Sunday for about 5 hours. (I haven't missed a week since January, in spite of working 60+ hour weeks).

Some people will drop out, other will try to join, but it's worth the effort to making it work.

Disclaimer: Children will probably kill the whole thing. But until then... swords high!

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926965)

I've thought about getting together with some other "over the hill" D&D geeks on occasion to try table top gaming again, but there isn't enough time for most people to make it a regular scheduled item.

There are several very active nationwide/worldwide "living" campaigns in progress right now. You might be surprised how many members are old enough to be bringing their kids to play, too. You very likely can find a table in your area. One of the nice features of the "living" campaigns is that you can participate sporadically. You can do one weekend convention every month or two whether you have a group or not. If you find a local group, you could do one evening every week or two.

Start here:
http://wizards.com/default.asp?x=rpga/hq/newcomers [wizards.com]

Perhaps the most populous campaign is here:
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Living_Greyhaw k/ [yahoo.com]

the one thing that MMOs and MUDs lacked for me (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926972)

was immersion. When I used to play table-top DnD, what really captured me was the fact that my character was an interactive part of the world around them physically, and more important, socially. If I was the captain of an army and deserted them right before a pivotal battle, the GM made damn sure my character became notorious and was remembered by their former comrades. Sure, MMOs have some really stunning graphics now, but eye candy only goes so far in creating an immersive feeling.

I think a system that would help would be to hire online GMs. These GMs should be given the power to change all kinds of aspects of the game, like geography and NPC status to reflect the actions of the players. If a bunch of players band together and raid a goblin village, any GM online at the time that witnesses the raid could change the village by either adding ogre mercs that the goblins hired or making the village deserted representing a decision by the goblins to relocate to somewhere safer. These companies pay for people to keep up their network systems, maybe they could pay people to keep up the virtual systems, too.

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (3, Interesting)

arclyte (961404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926987)

I don't know if this is exactly in line with your ideas, but I think it's close... http://www.paranoia-live.net/news.php [paranoia-live.net] Some gamers who play paranoia developed a java-based application that allows people to meet virtually for table top games. The app allows for chatting and has all kinds of built in features geared towards the game. It's not table top, and it's not a MUD/MMOG. I think it fills a nice place in the middle... It still requires all the imagination of table top, just not the space (and you don't have to share your junk food and soda with anyone!).

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926989)

From what I can tell, there aren't any "locally restricted" options for any MMOG

The first word in MMOG is "massive", which isn't what you are looking for. If you want to get a small group together for a dungeon hack, why not fire up Neverwinter Nights and grab the latest top-quality mod?

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927019)

Everquest has supported home brewed / modded UI's for at least 2-3 years now. There's some stunning interfaces available, too.

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (1)

Nilych (959204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927020)

I was a pretty avid MUDder in my youth, and did a pretty good deal of tabletop RPing when I hit college (and enough of a gamer community could be found), though most of it was more WhiteWolf than D&D (the females of the group could get behind being a vampire/werewolf/fae/etc more than anything from high fantasy for some reason). Of course, the next step was into MMOGs, where I currently maintain a FFXI and DDO subscription, having given up on most other MMOGs I've played (Lineage2, WoW, EQ2, Planetside, etc). From what I've seen, the goal of most MMOGs is the opposite of what you want - to build their own global communities. I see no sign of this trend changing. FFXI even requires you pay to have someone you know join your server, otherwise they're randomly assigned a server, while providing some translation tools so you can speak to Japanese players who don't know any English. Ironic, as no amount of breaking down the language barrier removes the racism that's often rampant. I even recognize the katakana for "gaijin", I've seen it so much. So in the big MMOs, I'm afraid you're outta luck without going in with a group of friends you already know. As for the end-user creative input to the game, you might have some luck with the smaller budget (and often free) MMOs. There's a large number of independently developed games that love for people to help test and add some input. Google for Free MMORPG, or go through lists of betas, you'll find plenty. Unfortunately, the game community is getting lazy. MMORPGs are to RPGs what TV was to radio. So I'm going to find my bag of d10s, and buy a new laptop to play FFXI on.

Here is your roster of local players: (3, Informative)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927225)

http://www.sca.org/ [sca.org]

There are local chapters damn near everywhere. A whole lot of us, at least "older" folks, got into this THROUGH D&D.

A lot of my SCA buds do games like D&D on a regular basis.

Steve

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (1)

tabby (592506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927356)

"OpenRPG is an Internet application that allows people to play Role Playing Games in real-time over the Internet. OpenRPG is free, open source, software, distributed under GNU/GPL license."

http://www.openrpg.com/ [openrpg.com]

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927372)

"What are the options? I was thinking of an MMOG with reduced graphics (leading to increased imagination) that maybe segregated players into communities where they'd play against others close to one another. Communities might be tied to one another allowing crossover, but requiring the player to want to take the time to travel to these truly distant lands but requiring them to return home before retiring for the day."

Your describing EverQuest 1 before it fell to crap, which has a huge following, who are currently homeless (or squatting in other MMO's until something better comes along). Most of us are looking towards Vanguard, which has amazing graphics actually, but seems to be very much suggested for this sort of audience.

Re:Fine line between MUD and MMOG? (1)

bergwitz (702715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927397)

Sounds like you want to Play-by-Forum. Stop by rpg.net some day and there's thousands of people like you who want to play RPGs but can't get a group organized. There's some software out there who do what you want (text-based MMORPG), but I don't have link right now.

Combat (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926697)

Although I didnt play this that long myself in the beta... I did enjoy the combat as it added almost like an FPS feel to it, which can separate the men from the boys of just click once and watch WoW, EQ etc. So that was refreshing, and keeping on your toes especially as a melee character where you needed to be close for effective combat. I can see how over time this can get boring but so does clicking your attack bind once and waiting around like a ditz.

The graphics were very good and detailed, and not too cartoonish.

However overall it failed to draw me in, and nothing has since UO/EQ (1), and DAoC.... I dont know if its because im older and dont have the time to commit, the story lines, the environment, quests lack of or too many, etc.....

Hopefully the game will do well, and may be able to draw off some WoW mindless zombies.

Re:Combat (2, Informative)

confu2000 (245635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926782)

Another aspect of combat in DDO is that players and monsters are solid. That is to say monsters can't walk through players and players can't walk through monsters. Players can walk through other players.

This raises the possibility of using choke points and positional tactics which the majority of other MMOs I've seen are lacking. Instead of relying on threat mechanics to keep a mob glued to your tank, you can instead wall off your casters (or try at least) to keep them safe. This strikes me as a much more intuitive approach than used by most other games.

All that said, at lower levels, people just run in and kill stuff too quickly to need to worry about these sort of tactics. But they do come into play occasionally as one advances in levels and it's nice to have the option.

To Mod Troll or Not To Mod Troll (5, Funny)

Ranger (1783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926722)

I guess being modded Troll for a comment in this story would be a good thing.

Re:To Mod Troll or Not To Mod Troll (1)

umeboshi (196301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927159)

I guess being modded Troll for a comment in this story would be a good thing.

Unless you get a flaming reply :)

Table Based (4, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926723)

I still play every second week, with the same bunch of people (including a female) that I've been gaming with for about 20 years. Not that it might not be a good game on its own, but I think I'd miss seeing the mischievous look on the DM's face just before he pulls something nasty.

It's also nice having your own mental picture of what's going on, be it accurate or not.

Re:Table Based (3, Funny)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926806)

I'm having a hard time with my own mental picture of what's going on. Did you say a female and for 20 years?

Re:Table Based (2, Funny)

conJunk (779958) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926942)

dude, it's his mom, she's trying to take an interest

sorry, sorry....

Re:Table Based (4, Interesting)

TekGoNos (748138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927245)

Heck yeah, I've seen nothing on the computer (yet) that comes even close to a table top setting.

The main difference is that everything is possible in a table-top setting. While in a computer game everything is limited by what the designer though of in advance.

Just from my last game session :
1) We had a brawl between players (i.e. we were not trying to do lethal damage, but only show off to see who's stronger)
2) During which someone catched my shirt and shot through it (without harming me) just to get my attention
3) we broke through the bottom of an elevator, because we hadn't the key for the floor
4) we (magically) convinced a Guard that he was really thirsty and wanted to walk south till he got to a Bar.

As for computer games :
1) I dont know of any comp game that allows such brawls, but I might be mistaken. In general, fights in comp games have the only goal to do lethal damage, to kill. While in a table top, I might also fight in order to disable someone, to show off that I'm stronger, to catch someone, hit someone to let out frustrations, etc ...
Related to that : I've yet to see a game where opponents surrender (side note : depending on the GM, they dont do that in a table top setting neither)
2) I also dont know if any game allows to use guns for attention getting. It works well in real life (shoot into air, everyone turn your way and pays attention to you), but in the comp games I played, interaction seams to be limited to either fight or (exclusiv) speak. I've never seen implemented something like : fight a bit to show that you could kill the other, than speak and use the result of the fight as an intimidation ("I could have killed you").
3) This might be possible once PPU's are standard. Currently, we have such stupid things as chests that cannot be opened without a key, even if I swing a maze that can break skulls (and surely chests).
4) In a computer game a NPC can only do what the designer though off. The only way to break this is by either : developing strong AI, or making a game without NPC, i.e. humans play everything with some intelligence, even weak goblins. (Perhaps pay humans with XP for their main character, or free extentions to their account for such deeds.)

Bottom line : while I like computer "R"PGs as a genre of their own, comparing them (in their current form) to table top RPGs is ridiculous. Maybe with PPU's and much better AI, but I doubt that this will be soon.

And some things will never be translated to a computer game :
Players : "we open the door"
GM : "Ahh, I've waited for hours to finally get you to this point ... " (evil smirk)
"and behind the door is ... nothing."

RFIDice (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926729)

I don't want to give up my funny (polyhedral) dice. I started playing D&D with the "Basic Set", which included cutout "chits" bound into the rulebooks. We had to pick numbers from cups until the game was popular enough that a hobby store within 50 miles could mailorder some dice. I never went back. Throwing dice is the perfect physical connection between verbal roleplaying and throwing spells/punches/ropes. "Saving throw" is so much more real with a real throw. Lots of chance should be automated to smooth flow of the game and keep DM decisions secret. But I want the option of throwing some dice in the game, even if just to burn some entropy to show it who's playing.

Maybe a "Real Funny Interface Dice" controller, where a couple of RFID sensors detect the 3D position of a couple of RFID chips in each die? Or maybe a "dicepad" that images the bottoms of the dice after they roll. Just as long as I can throw some nuggets to pick a number, I'll be able to keep the moves I learned as a kid.

Re:RFIDice (-1, Offtopic)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927222)

Moderation -1
    100% Offtopic

Suggesting how to interface real dice with the online D&D game is "Offtopic" to "Dungeons and Dragons Online Impressions"?

GIVE SWORD TO TROLLMOD at high velocity, edge first.

LOADING... (3, Insightful)

Wind_Walker (83965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926741)

I played DDO during the Stress Test event and my biggest

LOADING...

problem was that everything was instanced. After games like

LOADING...

World of Warcraft where (on a single continent at least) the game is

LOADING...

virtually seamless, the long load times and lack of immersion it created really

LOADING...

got to me.

an opinion (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926745)

wikipedia is commmunism

DDO is hardly D&D (4, Insightful)

luvirini (753157) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926752)

One of the basics of D&D is indeed the abstract nature of combat and skill uses. The fact that DDO forces the horrible clicking, making it a reflex clicking game makes me stay very far from it.

So, as I want to feel the RPG feeling, I am sticking to NWN and soon going over to NWN2.

Cartoon (2)

cflorio (604840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926768)

I say they should bring back the D&D Cartoon.

AD&D [zaksrealm.net]

Re:Cartoon (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926863)

"Dungeons and Dragons Online Impressions..."

Ok, here's my impression *cough* ...

Ewwwwww... Neeeeee!

tl;dr (-1, Offtopic)

continuouslife (934428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926772)

see subject

More of a mainstream game (2, Insightful)

bahwi (43111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926788)

I think DDO is more of a mainstream game for the casual gamer, not for the die hard gamers. Sorry, WoW never interested me, if you didn't play daily you lost out on way too much and it was hard to either catch up with friends or find a new group. FFXI was too much crafting pointlessness and it felt like they were leading you on your path all the time.

DDO is just fine to pick up once a week, easy to use, quick to group, and the dungeons are a good hour or two and you can be done for the night.

People either love it or hate it, and most of the people who hate it are on other MMORPG's while the ones who love it have a nice mix of other MMO's and people who weren't playing anything before(like me).

"It's not for the casual gamer because it's impossible to play on your own. "

Huh? Click LFG in the social menu and in about 10 minutes normally(normally much less) you're grouped. What are you talking about?

Sorry, but tell me when WoW gets to this level of gameplay(not quality, not features, not content, just the quality of actually playing the game, I know WoW beats it on features and content, and quality is up for debate since it's still in it's rocky start, like WoW was).

Re:More of a mainstream game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926866)

WoW had a rocky start? Are you fucking kidding? Sure, it had some server instability issues, but it was insanely popular - so much, so, that it actually caused said problems.

Re:More of a mainstream game (1)

NthDegree256 (219656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927036)

"It's not for the casual gamer because it's impossible to play on your own. "

Huh? Click LFG in the social menu and in about 10 minutes normally(normally much less) you're grouped. What are you talking about?


I think you missed his point. Some people don't want to play in a group, regardless of whether or not they know the people involved. He was saying that DDO makes it essentially impossible to go on solo adventures, which is going to upset people that prefer that.

And yes, I suppose you could drag this into an argument of "why would you play a MMO if you just wanted to solo all of the time?" I'll leave that for the people who actually play MMOs to debate, though... >_>

Re:More of a mainstream game (2, Insightful)

dc29A (636871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927129)

"It's not for the casual gamer because it's impossible to play on your own. "

Huh? Click LFG in the social menu and in about 10 minutes normally(normally much less) you're grouped. What are you talking about?


You forgot to add that in pickup groups you get some idiots who are completely incompetent. You got people going AFK to let the dog out. You got people lost and you wait. All this adds up. If you are a casual gamer, avoid this game like the black plague.

I've given up on it when I had to group constantly, even at level 1. I was constantly dependent on other players' play time, competence and whatnot. I just couldn't do what I do in WoW: log on at weird times and have my Avatar progress through the game. I just dread to imagine semi-filler semi-useless classes like barbarians and rangers. I played a cleric and still got fed up with constant waiting and clueless players.

Tavern in beta = lagfest. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926789)

My system isn't that bad but when you are stuck there waiting for your character to respond 10-15 seconds it can get frustrating. I tried lowering my graphics settings and that only helped a bit.

game is lacking for the monthly fee (4, Interesting)

pl1ght (836951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926803)

This is the main point IMO that causes this game to fail. Hundreds of people brought it up during beta, and bring it up now, about instanced gaming. The game is fun. But to have to pay monthly for a game with similarities to how Guild Wars is run(with no monthly fee mind you), it is hard to convince myself to get this game. If it was stand alone and didnt have a charge i would probably jump all over it. But this instanced gaming and lack of traveling that is supposed to be "convenient" for gamers ends up making it less of an mmorpg that it already is. If you read the DDO forums you will see this issue brought up time and time again. And the responses are the same flames. But i think its obvious that this is one of the root problems of this title and why it will ultimately be a huge loss for Turbine.

No single-player? (4, Interesting)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926826)

It is not possible to play Dungeons and Dragons Online solo.

Anyone else out there really disappointed by this?

Re:No single-player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926875)

No. Dungeons & Dragons was not meant to be played solo, and any significant level of viable soloability would have been a betrayal of the core values of the system. No single D&D character should be able to fill every role.

Re:No single-player? (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927042)

No. Dungeons & Dragons was not meant to be played solo, and any significant level of viable soloability would have been a betrayal of the core values of the system. No single D&D character should be able to fill every role.

I must disagree. One particular friend from my tabletop D&D crowd and I have had many interesting solo sessions - one of us as GM, the other soloing. It's a new twist on RPing for the average player, as well as great excercise for the GM's imagination and skill in tailoring a quest to one player, running compelling enough narrative and NPC action so that this character doesn't have to fill "every role."

This is certainly within the capabilities of an MMO to provide, and even a small amount of soloable quests in D&DO would have been welcome not only for die-hard soloists like myself, but also for the average player who just wants to strike out from the crowd every now and then.

Re:No single-player? (1)

Pacratt (463320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926920)

Totally disappointed, if only I could get my money back. At least I can cancel before my 30 days free is up. Game looks fantastic, but if you can't solo. I mean c'mon game designers, you want someone to try it once or to get hooked?

Yes. (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926936)

In D&D and even NWN a rogue can do quite well on their own. It's fun to take the sneaky-thinky way rather than the hacky-slashy way. Unfortunately in NWN you only get XP for killing, so you won't have the levels to overcome higher-level opponents if you do it this way. Tabletop RPGs are much better in that regard.

Re:No single-player? (2, Insightful)

The Rizz (1319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926962)

> It is not possible to play Dungeons and Dragons Online solo.
Anyone else out there really disappointed by this?


I am. If I've only got 20-30 minutes free to play at some point (which is very common), it would be nice to be able to sit down and play the game, and not just pop in and sit there for 10+ minutes trying to find a party to work with. In contrast, if you play Neverwinter Nights you generally can just pop in and play, even if you don't have a party. It's more difficult, but generally do-able.

If ~50% of my time in a game is spent waiting to play, I think I'll move to something else, TYVM.

Re:No single-player? (1)

Jurrasic (940901) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926964)

Me. If I still had the time to devote to a dedicated group of AD&D players to game with at set times for hours at a time, i'd still be playing actual tabletop AD&D with them. A MMOG I cannot solo in is a MMOG I will never play.

Re:No single-player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927087)

Yes. Yes I am.

The ability to "solo" in the game world is a reflection of a certain portion our reality. I don't "group" to go the grocery store. I don't "group" to fight the traffic-beast. If find that there is a particular mentality when it comes to certain character types which, in my estimation, require the option to go against the circumstances of the world all by one's self. These sterotypes show up quite frequently in the literature of the fantasy genre: The stone-faced barbarian, the beguiling rogue, and so forth. They may be now part of a group in the story, but they started out all on their own. In fact they may have to seperate from the group, as part of the plot, to achieve the ends that everybody deisres.

Without the availably to play on your own, to achieve your own ends, will cause not just myself but others as well to be at odds and disapointed with the design of the game.

Re:No single-player? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927170)

Of course. You should see the massive number of people complaining that Blizzard's endgame in WoW requires them to - gasp! - group with other players.

There's a large section of gamers who call themselves "casual" who get upset when you suggest that they should maybe look into playing with other people on an online game.

Re:No single-player? (1)

rabbot (740825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927267)

Well, i'm disappointed that the misconception that you can't solo made it into his review, yes.

I solo all the time in DDO. You just have to remember the dungeons are balances for 4 man groups of the dungeon lvl. You just have to pick the right soloable classes and run dungeons a lvl or 2 below your current level. Pretty easy. I can solo any lvl 1-4 dungeons at lvl 6 for decent XP.

Yes, no single player + no exploration :( (1)

denjin (115496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927339)

I also hate that you can't really explore anywhere. The city unlocks as you play, basically. And each area seems instanced (dungeons, even outside zones). It'd be nice if you could just explore it all at your own risk. At least for me. :)

An MMO that requires character dexterity? Great! (2, Insightful)

ArmedLemming (18042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926832)

"In other words, you're going to do a lot of missing. This gets frustrating very very quickly. In fact, it's gets just boring after a while."

What's interesting to me is the philosophy behind this statement.

Perhaps it's a little more realistic to believe one will miss alot during a battle? Maybe it's boring because we've all been spoiled by automatic action gaming that doesn't require much in the way of character dexterity while fighting? I'd like to think that if one maneuvers their character well during a fight, they'll land more hits. And while it still may be abit boring to those used to rapid XP gain, I think it's truer to the original aspects of the tabletop D&D I used to play.

"They jump around, move out of range, and generally do their best not to get killed. That means that in addition to repeatedly clicking on your opponent you're going to be trying to follow their movements. It's all too dang chaotic to be truly fun."

Sounds more realistic to me. Perhaps this game will filter out the less diehard players and leave only the more serious gamers? I wonder if the MMO player-base has grown enough to sustain a game like this where it requires more skill and dedication (as in you'd have to be pretty dedicated to play this game if it's as boring as you've said it is)? Actually, I'd like to think it has, and additionally, I'd like to think that this game wouldn't change much to accomodate the people who want a fantasy MMO where you don't have to be particularly good, you just have to know when to hit the attack key...

I personally hope that this fighting model for MMO takes off and is incorporated in more games...

Re:An MMO that requires character dexterity? Great (1)

strobe74 (617588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927247)

Sometimes realistic gets dumb. Eating food in EQ was realistic but it was a pain in the a** after a while and served no purposed to further the storyline or the fun factor of the game.

Sure in DDO you could deal with the bugs magically knowing when you were gonna cast and doing a 180 around the back of you so that you were staring at air over and over again, but after a while it gets stupid and made the game less engaging for me at least. I stopped paying attention anything around me and to focus on one mob at a time because you never knew when it was going to ninja left or right out of your attack range. You spend so much time focusing on turning your character so that your target is in attack range that you can hardly get spells off. To me that got quite frustrating after a short period of time. I never had to tell the DM that "I check to see if I'm still looking at my target while I'm casting, to make sure I can still see to attack it" while I was playing on paper. I think it's a bit ridiculous in DDO that the mobs act like crack induced A.D.D patients.

I think the "realistic" mob movement has been taken just a bit too far. However that wasn't the killer for me.. I had all sorts of problems getting the game to run smoothly.. lag, being stuck in place, changing keys causing exception errors next time you ran the game, widescreen video not showing proper aspect, etc..

I mean I don't' expect the game to be perfect, bugs are a part of software development.. I just didn't feel the game was worth 15$ a month on top of everything else.

I think the concept is cool to have the problem solving puzzles and specific class abilities like rogues disarming traps and all, so I hope that guildwars adds those features to their game. 15$ for a buggy visual battlenet is too much.

Re:An MMO that requires character dexterity? Great (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927275)

Realism and fun in games rarely prove compatible.

"Experience points are only handed out at the end" (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926840)

Experience points are only handed out at the end of the mission, when quest objectives are completed.

Good, I say. This is keeping in line with pen-and-paper D&D, the idea that there is offscreen training and what-not involved in actually "levelling up"

But really, anything to get away from the standard MMPORG grind would be great. Why do most games hand out experience as if everyone is playing a fighter? How about doling out XP for using class skills successfully?

Instead of levelling up solely by killing one identical monster after another, a healer should get experience for successfully using healing and protection spells to aid the party-- and the riskier the situation the better. A rogue should get XP for disarming traps, successfully stealing and backstabbing, etc.

Where is the story? (5, Insightful)

urikkiru (801560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926844)

Something that seems to be missing from all MMORPGS, is stories. Tabletop role play was about epic stories, and interaction with people on your adventures. MMORPGS seem to be about killing things and collecting loot. I didn't play DnD with friends for getting cool magical swords. After all, all it took was writing in a cool item on your character sheet to 'have it' anyway. Also, DM's are famous for scaling their adventures to the players stats/skills/items anyway, so leveling up was simply a way to keep score, not the goal in mind.

I played such games for *stories*. Things to tantalize my mind, to experience in a more direct role. I look at a role playing session as like experiencing an epic tale that I can have a direct hand in. All attempts to recreate that in a digital form for MMORPGS have failed dismally in my opinion. Even WoW.

Is it so hard to create some gameplay that is more like playing the Baldur's Gate style games? Or Planescape Torment? Most of the single player RPG's manage this pretty well. What about NWN? That game has managed a multiplayer component that has virtually no rivals in the digital age, purely from it's lack of centralized multiplayer, and by allowing players to create their own content. These are all food for thought I think, although I'll stop rambling now about this, as I could go on for a while.

Re:Where is the story? (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927237)

I think implementing stories in this kind of environment would be rather difficult. I think this particular sub-genre of roleplaying is probably always going to amount to dungeon crawling for this precise reason, and while I still enjoy the odd hack-and-slash session, in the quarter century I've table top roleplayed I've matured beyond that to the point where story telling is the very crux of the reason I play, and because of the nature of online playing, I don't see how group playing in this environment could ever effectively give that to me. The only kind of online roleplaying I have done that does give that story telling feel is the form of roleplaying that probably requires it the most; PBEMs. Most rule systems, even really light-weight ones like Fudge, still require at least some dice rolls, and in the end there's not a lot of efficient ways to reproduce that in a PBEM, so the narrative elements become much bigger. PBEMs have their drawbacks, mainly because the cycle for even the fastest game is going to be a day or two, and the one I'm GMing started at a four day cycle but now sits at a seven day one just because, oddly enough, posting PBEM turns seems to require more time and effort than table top.

Problem with narrative in MMOs ... (2, Insightful)

looty (961439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927241)

... is that a good story is ultimately about the meeting between a character and a world that leaves both character and world changed. You cannot really do this in an MMO, at least at this point, because the world is ultimately static.

Yes, you can have the illusion of story, if you ignore the fact that the "story" isn't so much progressing as resetting for the next person to come along. But in the end, an MMO is more like one of those rides you see at Disneyland, where you sit in a little car and move through an endlessly-repeating animatronic "story time."

Maybe some day, let us hope, someone will be clever enough to figure out a way to create a virtual world that is dynamic. Until then ...

Not possible, I think (1)

Hakubi_Washu (594267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927327)

I don't think it's possible to create story for thousands of players in the same world at the same times. You can either have hundreds of story writers (I wouldn't call them GM...), but then you have to make sure those stories don't accidentally intersect or players hop randomly from story to story (The NWN way, but not Massive Multiplayer in the typical sense), or you can have few writers that can only create a shallow story, since, let's face it, not everyone is a world saving hero, so having every player partake in one epic story is going to be lame (possibly leaving one player the bragging rights for killing the demon/devil/tanari/shadow/old one/whatever), which gets worse once you start repeating these events (How pathetic is WoW in that respect? How many people were successfull in Molten Core? There is a nice german webcomic about that aspect: http://wow.gamona.de/index.php?seite=pp&pid=126&si d=23 [gamona.de] (I don't know when the translation will come out)).

Essentially, I think the RPG Group-of-Heros approach only works well in environments where there is just one group, thus pen & paper, single-player or small groups multiplayer.

Re:Where is the story? (2, Insightful)

zerocommazero (837043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927351)

The biggest problem is coming up with great stories for each individual player. Then somehow managing all that into the current game involving all the players. You can't have a great story without some kind of changes to your character and the environment in general. That's what I would expect. like a story where your group disposes of a dragon or wipes out a troll army or stops a pirate fleet. Now that dragon or troll army or fleet is gone forever and those implications should affect the game world for everyone to be realistic. There are environmental effects to take into consideration in order to make each story individual and still have meaning. Oh well, maybe some day. I don't think you'll ever see a MMORPG with that ambition. It would probably be best for a MMORPG to have multiple copies of the main gaming world which could have only so many players (250-1000 depending on scope and size). And kind of like the old Sliders TV show, each "dimension" has its own history of events that have or will have taken place. Just think you could create implications that affect the gaming world for everyone playing. And, if you don't like it, you could jump to another dimension with your gruff school teacher. This would definitely make everyone feel more involved. These casual/cookie cutter quests that are run through in the typical MMORPG don't make an RPG in my opinion.

For what it's worth (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926864)

I beta'd this game, and it's not very different from other major MMORPGS (EQ2, WoW). The realtime fighting is the same as it is in EQ2, except you have the choice to manually swing your axe or have it done automatically; there are no advantages to swinging it manually. The game itself is the same as any other with just minor differences setting it out from the rest.

The D&D ruleset doesn't cater for the old tabletop players. It will give you some familiarity, but there's no depth like you would find in MUDs. It isn't very solo friendly, either :(. The only good thing is the quests, they spend more attention to the individual quests and it shows in that you'll find genuine puzzles involving moving walls and floor panels, levers and interesting NPCs.

But unfortunately, it bores quickly and didn't manage to captivate me as much as MUDs or even EQ2 did.

No Monks (2, Informative)

umrgregg (192838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926874)

"All of the D&D iconic classes are available (even poncy bards), along with the typical player races."

But where are the monks? ;)

Apparently they'll be released at a later date...

"Combat Clickfest" (5, Informative)

Veldcath (591080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926910)

The author only has it half right. There is, indeed, an auto-attack mode, which can be turned on by the press of a hotkey (by default, "1") or by double-clicking on the creature you wish to attack.

What I did not see mentioned in my quick glance through the article is that the NPCs you fight are actually somewhat intelligent. They will move around, try to get behind you. It's very interactive in that manner. You have to keep the creature in front of you, and it's going to try to keep NOT in front of you.

Re:"Combat Clickfest" (1)

Veldcath (591080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926929)

Whoops. Yes, he did mention it. But where he calls it "too chaotic to be fun", I call it fun. If you're playing well, you're jumping around, using your tumble skill to avoid blows and so on. It's more like a first-person shooter in that regard. You actually have to work at it to do it well.

Two problems (5, Insightful)

Arandir (19206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926923)

You are facing two problems. The first is that it's very hard to translate a paper-and-dice RPG to computer, regardless if it's a MUD, MMORPG, CRPG, etc. The reasons for this are myriad.

The second problem, however, is that you might be confused as to what "D&D" actually is. It's a rules set for apaper-and-dice RPG. It has nothing to do with milieu, setting, or environment. A D&D game could be set in Greyhawk, Forgettable Realms, Middle Earth, or your own setting. It could have every monster in the Monster Manual I and II, or it might have none of them. It might have trolls, but not the typical regenerating trolls. It could have twenty different races, or it might have just humans. The point is, D&D is a set of rules, nothing more.

Now that I've thought about it a bit more, my unhumble opinion is that wanting a "D&D" MMORPG is silly. There's so much a MMORPG can offer, that wanting it limited by a set of tabletop rules is dumb. It's like wanting a word processor to be limited to the concept of a pencil. An MMORPG can use *REAL* statistic probabilities instead of rolling a silly s20. Why use hitpoints when you can now calculate damage based precise hit location, armor covering and layering, weapon aspect, wound types, etc? Even with the grossly simplified and abstracted combat necessary for performance, a computer is still going to give you a combat experience that would otherwise take you pages and pages charts and tables in a tabletop game. And that's just combat! Imagine would it could do for skills such as lockpicking, trap detection, spell research, weaponcrafting, ale brewing and literacy!

Review, short form (4, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926930)

This follows the general pattern of most reviews I have seen of DDO, or any other new game released since early 2004 for that matter. Let me see if I can sum it up a bit:

"It's pretty, but it's not World of Warcraft. I like World of Warcraft, and am accustomed to how World of Warcraft plays. The parts of this which are like World of Warcraft are good, but the parts which are different (from World of Warcraft) are obviously bad decisions. I'm going to go back to playing World of Warcraft, and if you like World of Warcraft like I like World of Warcraft, you should just keep on playing World of Warcraft instead of this game, which is not World of Warcraft."

Re:Review, short form (1)

looty (961439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927108)

Maybe so, maybe so. But there are a lot of things game designers (including Turbine) can still learn from WoW. Whether or not you like the game play, you have to admit the UI design is very nice, as is the relative lack of load screens. I have been playing DDO for a week or so, with mixed feelings. I am constantly finding little things that WoW does that DDO doesn't. Not in the game itself, but in the interface. Assist? Nope. Dressing room? Nope. First-person view? Nope. The ability to trade with another PC by simply dragging an item from your inventory over their toon? Hardly. A minimap you can ping? No.

Like it or not, WoW has become the gold standard for MMOs. It does not have the most innovative game design, or the most cutting edge graphics... but it has a level of immersiveness that DDO -- which is still a fun game, no doubt -- lacks. IMHO it's going to take a much more polished product than DDO to knock it off of that pedestal.

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926951)

In my opinion, if ya want good MMOPRG play World of Warcraft or the better City of Villains (Heroes). However, I'm not knowick it, it may change for the better as did Guild Wars from beta to final, but then again maybe not enought to keep you coming back..
I'll just keep my hopes up for a MMORPG Diablo...

No, the cat does not "got my tongue." (-1, Flamebait)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926959)

> D&D monsters aren't like the villains of Diablo; They jump around,
> move out of range, and generally do their best not to get killed.
> That means that in addition to repeatedly clicking on your opponent
> you're going to be trying to follow their movements. It's all too
> dang chaotic to be truly fun.

Oh holy god, what a lamer.

I officially declare him Pathetic Uber O-Pathos, the Fourth.

The fighter class can, but does not have to, be played similarly to the scrapper class in City of Heroes.

In other words, it's one of only two classes I'm aware of in any MMORPG that have viable, good damage dealing warrior types.

I swirl and dance around the monsters and slaughter them. Unless I'm not paying attention, I have the most kills in the party, every time. And half the time I have more kills than the rest of the party put together.

I can't someone would say something like that and still expect to show his face in public among gamers. Being able to play like a scrapper is one of the saving graces of this game.

Shift to dodge (2, Insightful)

jzuska (65827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926967)

How exactly is pressing shift to dodge an attack REAL d&d. Shouldnt it be calculated hrmmmmmmmmmmm. This was an okay game till my first fight, then I was pissed. oh and loading..........

Addons? (2, Funny)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926971)

Just a question: does DDO provide support for addons as much as WoW (or at all)?

I ask that because, for me, trying new addons is almost 50% of the fun I see on playing WoW. So far I have around 100 to 200 addons installed that I use (and update) regularly, plus 50 or so in testing at each time, most of which get deleted very fast, but some of which end up in my "permanent" list. And the list only grows.

A non-fully customizable & scriptable UI is nowadays something I feel unaceptable for a complex MMORPG. I'll only try DDO (or any other MMORPG) if this feature is present. Otherwise, no way. After all, as my brother once said, WoW is actually a pretty good OS. ;)

Re:Addons? (1)

looty (961439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926994)

This was the first thing I asked on the DDO forum after I got the game and installed it. The answer, sadly, is no. And the UI is definitely not state of the art, not even close.

Pretty decent article (4, Insightful)

garylian (870843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926998)

Yes, the game has only been live for a short period of time, but the article is pretty accurate.

I actually enjoyed the combat that came along with DDO as opposed to EQ or WoW. And the mob AI is probably the best I have seen in any of the MMOs I have played in. Those kobolds jumping around mean that you have to chase them, and that's a -4 to hit unless you used a Feat to offset it. They don't make themselves easy to kill. That's refreshing.

While some of the powergamers will hit lvl 10 fairly quick, this game isn't designed around the power gamer, imo. And there is nothing wrong with that. Power gamers will enjoy V:SoH in all likelyhood. If the author only played for a month, I am not sure how many levels they got with a single character. My highest in beta with over a month of time put in on that toon, playing most nights for 4 or more hours, was lvl 6.4, a cleric. Lack of content and the moving of game worlds for the last few weeks hurt grouping, but lvl 7.x would have been my best attempt.

The real problem is the lack of other quests to do, and the diminishing returns you get on repeating quests. There is no way to get to level 10 without repeating many quests. That is just poor planning. I am sure most players that had extended beta time like I did, knew every nook and cranny of the WaterWorks dungeons. We knew all the trap locations. We knew all the secret doors. We knew if we needed a certain stat at a certain score to open a certain door. That's a problem. Just having random traps would have made a world of difference for some of it. The game is too static for its quests and layouts.

I don't mind the lack of solo content. Really, you are playing a MMO game. Why do people have this overwhelming need to go online and play a game where thousands of other people are playing, and not work with any of them? What's the point of it? And who played D&D in whatever form (D&D, AD&D, 2e, 3, 3.5, whatever) with just one DM and one person playing one toon? I wouldn't have wasted my time as a DM creating content for a single person and a single toon. And I hate to see MMO developers waste time creating solo content for a game designed to have thousands of toons online simultaneously. Also, solo content tends to get abused by multiple player groups doing the content because it's easy. I say, no thanks.

Having said that, being with a regular group of people to group with will make the gameplay outstanding. The game is designed with a 4 person group as the standard, but takes up to 6. Get yourself a cleric, rogue, front line fighter, and a caster, throw in 2 of any class as a regular group, and you will quickly become a cohesive fighting group. I found having a 2nd cleric made the game go really fast, especially when you started hitting a lot of undead.

This is no different from WoW or EQ, as well as most other games. Those people that form regular groups with people they know and have learned to trust, get a better gameplay experience. It's the same reason military units train in squads with the same people. In order to be a team, you have to work as one. So, criticizing DDO for not having solo content seems a little odd, when it's the way it *should* be.

One thing the article didn't mention was the different way that loot is handled in DDO. Semi-similar to the COH/V model, you don't get a choice of what loot you get, and you don't roll on it. Unlike COH/V, you can see what others got in a chest if you look fast enough, but you can't say "I want that, I'm gonna roll on it" and have a chance to win it. You have to ask for something, the other person has to loot it, and then you have to trade. Lack of loot hassles made the game a lot more enjoyable. Add in no "bind on pickup/bind on equip" for items (that I ever saw) and you have a lot less arguing. Pickup groups were less hostile due to this feature alone.

It shall be interesting to see how the time goes. I was in the beta for more than 2 months, and purchased the game. I haven't played much due to the stork being close to showing up, but I have enjoyed my time in it. No game is perfect, but DDO got a lot more right than it got wrong, imo.

Re:Pretty decent article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927249)

I don't mind the lack of solo content. Really, you are playing a MMO game. Why do people have this overwhelming need to go online and play a game where thousands of other people are playing, and not work with any of them?

Why do people go to coffee shops to sit and read, surrounded by people they don't know? What's the point?

only 10? (4, Funny)

Main Gauche (881147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927024)

"At the moment DDO only allows you to achieve level 10, rank 4."

Well you can turn my MMOG up all the way up to level 11!

Re:only 10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927288)

Yeah and the soundtrack for my MMOG is made by Spinal Tap...

Played beta for two days. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927031)

Played beta for two days. I really tried to like this game, but it honestly sucked. It seems to be stuck in this limbo between a real MMO and an NWN style game (but without the awesome toolset), but seems to lose something from both. It simply didn't feel like an MMO, the UI wasn't grand (compared to my customized WoW interface), the "everything is instanced" was overbearing, etc. At the same time, it didn't really feel like I was in my own personal adventure either. I really dislike the Eberron campaign setting to boot, so that didn't help.

Basically, I think there was a lot of blown potential. It isn't a game I'd pay $15/mo for, and definately not a game th at was able to pull me away from WoW.

Fuck Turbine (0, Troll)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927131)

They ruined AC, they ruined DDO, they are going to ruin MEO, they are the Uwe Boll of MMORPG's. Actually I take that back, AC was *amazing* until TOD. Even though it was a sad shell of it's former self for the 2 years leading up to TOD's launch it was still amazing.

Comparison, not review (2, Interesting)

e_slarti (731724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927140)

In all honesty, it sounds like he's just running through a list of comparisons between WoW and EQ vs. DDO. (Obviously favoring the EQ-type model).

I do applaud the makers of DDO for not going the easy route by making a clone of EQ with a D&D label slapped on it. He does have some valid points, but DDO is not EQ or WoW. Stick with those games if that's what you like to play and let this one be decided on its own merits.

Few things (2, Insightful)

Gorkamecha (948294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927193)

On the subject of humans.....I believe it's less a social statement and more of a power gaming statement. Humans have the best "long term" build. While the other races have interesting bonuses, few outweight the almighty bonus feat/bonus skill points. And as was said, you need a team, unfortunately, you can always guarantee yourself a team...so you need to build a power timmy if you want to get your play in. As for graphics and sprites, having played WoW were just about every piece of gear has an effect on your character to go back to the rather lame "well your armor changes...and it looks like everyone elses" sucks. Also XP debt isn't that big of deal in games where you can go grind and "fix" the damage. Unfortunately, since there is no way to grind, the only way to fix the debt is to replay a mission. That doesn't seem very table top to me. I've never turned to my DM and asked him if we could replay a module.... Finally, and most damning of all...is that the instances are the same every single time. To the point that I was casting spells around the corner to catch creatures as they spawned on my screen. Not a lot of replay value in that. ONE MORE THING: What's with the walkways without guard rails? Falling to your death, because you slipped off the stairs is lame. LAME. WoW did this in the beginning, then they went back and fixed them. Seriously people, WoW is not perfect...but if your building a brand new game learn from someone elses mistakes!!!

Original DnD series (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927210)

Does anyone remember the Pool of Radiance DnD series of games for the Commodore 64 and Apple II? This, in my estimation, was one of the greatest DnD games to date. Sure there is no online play, but the group combat was marvelous, the stories were compelling, and I could get right into the action of DnD style group combat without much hassle. Is there any modern DnD game that similuates group combat like these old titles? I hate these new first person dnd games where the essence of group combat is gone!

Here is my impression (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927217)

I think this summarizes it all [google.com] .... Oh wait you meant the game not the players?

DDO's great! (1)

kendoka (473386) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927248)

I was kinda suprised by the reviewer, although I respect his views. I don't want to counter his review, but would just like to chime in that I think DDO's pretty cool. I especially like the fact you get experience only for completing missions. In some cases I've heard you get bonus points for _not_ killing anything in the course of achieving your goal. Some may disagree, but I think it's a wonderful change from people going out and randomly bashing monster brains in for the sake of levelling. I actually focus more on the atmosphere and the grouping than I did with WoW. The dungeons are in many cases a lot more interesting than WoW quests. I enjoy the fact that rogues actually have traps to disarm, secret doors to sense, etc. The fact that there are puzzles in the dungeons to solve is also a welcome change.

Uphill in the damn snow! (4, Interesting)

Frazbin (919306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927252)

Let's talk about how sissified these new MMOs are compared to the first worthwhile 3d MMO, i.e. EQ. Specifically, let's talk about how these sissified MMOs are less immersive, less social, and less interesting than the grandfathers of the genre (UO,EQ). I'll be addressing EQ in the context of "classic" EQ, i.e. Kunark, Velious, and maybe Luclin.

We'll start with the death penalty. In EQ, when you die, you've just sacrificed somewhere between 10 minutes and 8 hours of your life. You have run back to your corpse to get back your things, and you have to do it *naked*. Sometimes this can take hours-- especially since the place you pop back up is determined by your "bind point", something that can only be set by casting classes and used in specific places. This, according to modern MMO players, sucks. I beg to differ. This kind of pain creates a real attachment to your character-- and to the people around you. To your character because his losses are yours. Your character loses his life, you lose a non negligible amount of time. To other people, because when you get *really* fucked, you need help from others to get your corpse back. Maybe it's not enjoyable by itself, but wheeling and dealing with a shady Necromancer, trying to get him to summon your corpse to a reasonable location at 3:00 AM is undoubtedly immersive experience.

Transportation as well, is a big thing that I loved in EQ and hated in most other MMOs. The goal of transportation isn't *really* to get you from point A to point B-- it's to give you an idea of how big the in game world really is. To that end. In EQ, a ship ride from one continent to another could take the better part of an hour (much of the travel space was populated by crazy content, too). In WoW, the trips are woefully abbreviated. Step on a ship and... Whoop! You're there.

For many people, the hardships of EQ may seem slightly insane-- but consider that in an easy game like WoW, you're getting something for nothing. Accomplishment without a challenge behind it is meaningless, and the feeling of accomplishment in a world populated by your peers is one of the big draws of MMOs. Hardship was *rampant* in EQ-- and you know what? It did kind of suck. It wasn't always enjoyable. But it made feats of daring all the more impressive and thrilling. The lows were lower, yes-- but the highs were much higher. In the end, WoW got my attention for maybe 5 months, as opposed to the 2 years and countless memories EQ gave me. I *know* WoW is more accessable. That's why so many damn people are playing it. But in my opinion, it isn't more *enjoyable*. The illusion of meaningful accomplishment is to central to the way I play MMOs, and WoW has never been able to make my accomplishments feel non-trivial (and please don't tell me about the PvP. I know it's the biggest draw WoW has, and there's some real potential there, but it's a completely different game when viewed from that angle, and I'm talking about PvE content).

To ward off the Off-Topic police, please note the D&D Online appears to be another of these easy, quick-to-beat, unsatisfying games. Most likely it won't be successful for these reasons.

Re:Uphill in the damn snow! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927362)

"Most likely it won't be successful for these reasons."

just the way WoW isn't a success.

I feel the same thing when I die in WoW as I did in EQ. After I am dead, in WoW I am bummed I ahve to run for 10 minute, with EQ I would just log off for a while, or play a different character, if I was someplace where I would have to spend an incredible amount of time to get back into the game.

And transportation is about getting you from point A to Point B. Not a lot of people want to be side tracked into other adventures, or wait an hour, to get something done.

I would love if WoW also had ships where you might be attacked by pirates, or giant Kracken or something.

Of course, Different people like diffferent things, and I would not presume to tell you what you should like.

Each to his own (1)

Uther2000 (703950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927311)

It is all in how you play or want to play, not everyone is going to flock to DDO while there are other MMO's that have more content, higher levels etc . . . During the beta I did find DDO close to what I remember from PnP. EQ2 and WoW do have more to offer. But again, it is up to the individual user to decide. Do I want something casual, log on for an hour or two, group and crawl though a dungeon. Or do I want to log on and randomly kill mobs or players and make items, for my one or two hours. --Uther "You were expecting something witty here ?"

Classes & Races in MMOG (2, Insightful)

Foochee (896249) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927333)

The classes available are typical to what you'd find in most MMOGs; With good reason, as most MMOGs stole their class concepts from D&D in the first place.
And D&D stole them from Tolkien's LotR.

Some problems with review (1)

Legion55 (689337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927341)

Ok first there is a Auto attack button that you can click and you automatically swing at your target as long as it is in front of you. Now you can still choose Special attacks with that going. As soon as you change a target then you attack the new target. That way you can do some of the tumbling and shielding that is needed at times. I have been told that Rogues do not have to be hidden to backstab, just flanking or behind someone that is attacking someone else. Hiding does help if you are alone. The grouping does depend on who is in the group and that is true of most if not all MMORPG's. The tanks are in front of the fight with mages and healers in the back. Common sense. The game was made to be a computer version of the Pen and Paper D&D and in most of those all you did was dungeon crawling with some travel between places. You have to understand that this is not a Charge in MMO like many of the others are, it is a bit more real worldly in that it takes time to heal. I actually like both ways and it makes sense for the D&D universe. I agree on the combat music getting tiresome, but it is also a great indicator for when a Slime or Ooze comes out that you may not be able to see clearly. On the Grouping part many times I either had a friend online or found a decent group by just turning on the Looking for Group flag. I usually got a invite pretty quickly and most of the people playing know that grouping is important and are willing to do it. Now you can get some idiots in the groups, but then you simply leave the group. I agree that they need a bit more story telling in the game, hopefully that is on the way. Oh and the Warforged are actually a pretty good race to play, I would call them the "Easy Button" of DDO.

High hopes and low expectations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927359)

A group of us have managed to maintain professional lives, families and still managed to get together weekly for an evening of table top gaming. When EQ first came out we jumped at a chance to be able to play online from our homes and see a world we were so used to talking about. The gameplay did not really work for us. The grind requirement was, for me at least, what really did it in. Now only one of the group still plays EQ, or any of the many MMO's that we tried over the years. DDO is the latest to taunt us with its promises.

What we are really looking for is a way to have the best of the table top (story telling, thrills of important dice rolls, strange house rules) combined with the best of computer games (computer assisted encounters, 2D and 3D maps, realtime representation of the round on the maps). Ideally this would mean being able to use the computer as a tool during table top game play as well as allowing for one or all to be remote and still able to participate equally.

WotC's Open Gaming License for the d20 world provides the core rules for adding to the world. What if someone added to that with a mapping tool that allowed the DM, from their station, to update the map of what has been explored thus far in 2D. Included in this display are the locations of the players character(s), NPC's, monsters and other inhabitants. Players views of the maps would be limited to that which they had already explored. Next, what if there was a encounter tool built on top of that mapping tool that allowed for the same turn based system from the table top game. Players could use/switch weapons, move, use magic, all of the options from the table top system. The DM would be able to control the monsters and NPC's as well. The encounter software would keep track of initiative, inventory, skills, damage, etc. The maps and the associated encounters could be pre-packaged, DM created or a combination of the two. A basic 3D view of all of the above working itself out would also be appreciated.

I think that about sums up our wish list.Somehow I do not think DDO will be a part of that dream. Anyone know of such a product in the works?

"beautiful graphics"? Where? (1)

stmr (853326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927376)

Looks exactly like AC2. And the faces are just as boring and lifeless like they were in AC2.

Actually there is an auto-attack feature (1)

sflory (2747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14927393)

As far as the clicking for each swingm I've found it's not the best way to play. All you need to do is go into the keymapping screen. Look for the "select nearest foe" and map it something thing sane like tab. Now set yourself to auto-attack. Now all you need to do is make sure you are facing the nearest foe, and are in range. People who master tend to out kill the rest of the party by double the margin.

    Personally the thing I don't like is that you often need a rogue for many dungeons. Once you hit 3rd level dungeons some of the trap horrible. If your mage, or cleric gets hit twice by a strength draining posion it's often mission over folks. (A caster with a 0 str can't cast, and etc...) Like wise there is an occassion door that requires a high int to open. You can't always find a blanced party with a pair of fighters, a rouge, a cleric, and a mage.

for some more info, check out the wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14927410)

There is an increasingly growing resource site for DDO created by the community (it's a wiki.) It's only a few weeks old, but with over 100 edits per day is already one of the best sites out there for info on this game. Yes, this is my site. Please check it out, or even better, contribute to the site :)

DDOWiki.com [ddowiki.com]
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